HUGHSON -- Much remains unknown about what led to the death of two men in an exchange of gunfire on a quiet block in Hughson on Wednesday afternoon.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department has said that John Szuggar, who had been reported as suicidal earlier in the day, entered the Seventh Street home of Nick Kounias after leading law enforcement on a slow-speed pursuit from Oakdale.
The men used to be neighbors and had a long-standing feud.
A co-worker of Kounias' said the 45-year-old worked at Seneca Foods as a mechanic on the graveyard shift. Modesto resident Michael Golightly said the two knew each other mainly from work but rode motorcycles together sometimes.
"I knew he had a good heart," Golightly said. "He was always helping anyone."
Sheriff's deputy Royjindar Singh said the department first was alerted to Szuggar, 52, when responding to a call at 1:18 p.m. Wednesday reporting a suicidal man armed with a handgun on Eaton Road east of Oakdale.
After Szuggar's Dodge pickup was located, sheriff's and California Highway Patrol officers followed him and attempted to pull him over.
Szuggar did not communicate with the officers during the pursuit, Singh said. Upon reaching Seventh Street, Szuggar parked the pickup in Kounias' driveway and went inside the home.
A SWAT team was then called in and several blocks in the neighborhood were closed off.
Shortly afterward, neighbors heard gunfire, and a woman believed to be Kounias' girlfriend, Judy Henderson, fled the house.
Singh said it is believed Kounias might have acted in self-defense. Both men died from gunshot wounds and the investigation is ongoing.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.